There is a new version of this tutorial available for Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal).

The Perfect Desktop - Ubuntu Studio 8.10

This tutorial shows how you can set up an Ubuntu Studio 8.10 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the Ubuntu Studio desktop to have the following software installed:


  • The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • F-Spot - full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop
  • Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos


  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Flash Player 10
  • FileZilla - multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird - email and news client
  • Evolution - combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • aMule - P2P file sharing application
  • BitTornado - Bittorrent client
  • Azureus/Vuze - Java Bittorrent client
  • Pidgin - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC - IRC client


  • OpenOffice Writer - replacement for Microsoft Word
  • OpenOffice Calc - replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • Adobe Reader
  • GnuCash - double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus - open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

  • Amarok - audio player
  • Audacity - free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Banshee - audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer - media player (video/audio), supports WMA
  • Rhythmbox Music Player - audio player, similar to Apple's iTunes, with support for iPods
  • gtkPod - software similar to Apple's iTunes, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini
  • XMMS - audio player similar to Winamp
  • dvd::rip - full featured DVD copy program
  • Kino - free digital video editor
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor - CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player - media player (video/audio)
  • Helix Player - media player, similar to the Real Player
  • Totem - media player (video/audio)
  • Xine - media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Brasero - CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B - CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia Codecs


  • KompoZer - WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
  • Bluefish - text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Quanta Plus - web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor


  • VMware Server - lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don't have to entirely abandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read-/Write support for NTFS partitions

Lots of our desired applications are available in the Ubuntu repositories, and some of these applications have been contributed by the Ubuntu community.

I will use the username falko in this tutorial. Please replace it with your own username.


2 Installing The Base System

The installation of the base system is easy as 1-2-3 because the Ubuntu Studio installer doesn't offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Ubuntu Studio iso image from, burn it onto a DVD, and boot your computer from it. Select your language:

Then select Install Ubuntu Studio:

Choose your language again (?):

Then select your location:

Choose a keyboard layout (you will be asked to press a few keys, and the installer will try to detect your keyboard layout based on the keys you pressed):

The installer checks the installation CD, your hardware, and configures the network with DHCP if there is a DHCP server in the network:

You can accept the default hostname or specify your own one:

Now you have to partition your hard disk. For simplicity's sake I will create one big partition (with the mount point /) and a little swap partition so I select Guided - use entire disk (of course, the partitioning is totally up to you - if you like, you can create more than just one big partition, and you can also use LVM):

Select the disk that you want to partition:

When you're finished, hit Yes when you're asked Write the changes to disks?:

Afterwards, your new partitions are being created and formatted.

Now the base system is being installed:

Create a normal user account:

If you like, you can set up an encrypted private directory. The default is to not set this up:

Next the package manager apt gets configured. Leave the HTTP proxy line empty unless you're using a proxy server to connect to the Internet:

On the Software selection screen, I select all package groups and hit Continue:

The installation continues:

Select UTC unless this is a dual-boot system with other operating systems (such as Windows) that expect the system clock to use local time:

The base system installation is now finished. Remove the installation DVD from the DVD drive and hit Continue to reboot the system:

The new Ubuntu Studio system is booting:

Log in to the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:

This is how your new desktop looks:

Now the base system is ready to be used.

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26 Comment(s)

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I just have to smile when I read the comments on this page. Thank you for your amusing view points. (Think how boring life would be if everyone were the same and thought alike.)

One thing that seems clear is that we seem to make our choices depending on what we actually use our computers for. I my self am forced to use both Windows and Linux. Everything work related is ALWAYS done with Linux. I simply don't have the money or the patience to try to fix Windows. Everything fun related is usually done with Windows. (This is mostly because it is difficult change old habits even though the current Ubuntu would do just fine.)

(By far) Most people use their computers for exactly 2 things. For browsing web and using mail.
If the computer comes with Printer and sound so much the better.



By: Anonymous

Ubuntu Studio is, to say it plain, a piece of crap and won't replace anything. But maybe you can tell me what to use as a replacement for my Adobe Production Premium for Compositing and Blu-Ray Authoring ? Theree isn't even a working (stable!) Video-Editing Software available. And no, i am not talking about unusable Software like Kino, OME or KDEnlive. Even the promising Cinelera/Lumiera is a productive and stable Software. In other words - if you have to work professionally in Design/Video/Media and the like you have to use either Win Vista or MacOS. Linux, no matter what Distro, is no option. Believe me, i tried them all and failed. The Linux distros and communities seem to be great if it comes to buzzwords, generating hype and writing ads for their distro but the reality is harsh. Most ditros are crap, unstable, ugly and plainly unusable for productive (!) work.

By: Anonymous

I agree... Ubuntu is not so good for multimedia and especially video. Even with such thing as video playback i'm struggling to get good performance. I believe it has good potential, but you need to be really expert in OS internals to make it shine.

By: Nyc Westport

YES, but the harshest criticism must be reserved not for the posers who waste their time developing these distributions and applications, so called "FREE software," but for the fraudsters who, in Photoshop on Windows obviously, doctor all these screen shots to "prove" it works great.  I WANT MY MONEY BACK!   

By: Anonymous

You both are idiots! Ubuntu has everything you could ever need for multimedia video and audio editing & playback, and EVERY Linux distro is stable and secure compared to any other OS. For video stuff to work you just have to have some brains, thus not be a mindless Window$ user. Retards.

By: Anonymous

Yea :) But still I'm in process to get clear how to get my HD video run smooth. Win gets it done very OK on same machine. I'm determined to find solution but it will take some time it seems. I understand that Linux distros are extremely flexible to configure, and i have no issues to use cmd line... still it takes a lot of effort if your not an expert.

By: Anonymous

And there's your standard pro-linux argument in a nutshell. "If linux isn't working then you are a stupid windows user". You know what else is stupid?-- who the hell installs Amarok on a gnome desktop? You use Exaile if you like the interface or Banshee or Rhythmbox if you just need the functionality. I would say that whoever wrote this howto is an amateur Windows-user trying to get by in a linux world. Well, linux uses shared libraries, that means that you don't want to mix your KDE/QT tools and gnome desktop, otherwise you'll have issues with copy/paste and drag and drop other really obvious things that linux devs commonly overlook. I used linux for years (2003-2007) until I switched to an old Mac, and later Windows Vista! That's right! Windows Vista.

And linux video editing suites are a fine replacement...for Windows Movie maker, although the Windows Movie Maker in Vista easily tips the scale on every linux editing suite--- except Cinelerra in the hands of someone with a ton of time on their hands and extreme patience for instability... I mean, someone who is willing to patch their own applications.

If you're going to use linux, at least use a distribution with a well constructed backend. Ubuntu/debian is so hacked that any failure on the front end is always obfuscated and insurmountable. Use something more professionally designed like Fedora. You will be amazed on how many performance and stability issues are solved by a *better* backend. And if you want a system that works productively, use Windows Vista or Mac OS X. End of story.

By: Anonymous

ok. I sort agrre and yet disagree. Linux and windows are totally diffrent os's and bot have their pros and con! If you are a graphic designer. [and lets face, not many ppl are] then i suggest a mac. If you are a normal user, I suggest linus as it can fill all ur needs as to serfing the net and play movies, blogging, sshing... etc. If you are a hard core gamer... well you have to run with windows. Yes, linux by no means compares to the amazing responces of the graphical mac.Yes, liux has not been able to emulate the games as well as windows yet... BUT, a mojority of tasks can be done more effecently w/ linux! More over, this post a briallant for new ppl just startin linux.

ps. there are some problems w/ hdware you have on ur computer that will inhibit ur experance w/ linux... and if you had these problems, i am sorry. I know how it is as i have a few minor problems. Dont think that this is common as out of 3 comp. all have linux, only 1 has probelms... and even windows has problems w/ that. Toshiba A215 s7428 is worest lappy ever. and ya.


Nice post :]

By: Fabiano

OpenOffice is no so good to work and even graphicaly it is a little poor compared with the $other$.

Just click "new" in Writer and you'll see how weird it is.


By: Anonymous

Yes, Linux works for everything I need, and as I find myself needing to do something new- OH! Linux has what I need, Linux just keeps getting better and better, while Mac and Window$ stand still if not go down hill (Windows Vista for example.) Nutshell no, I have a much longer reason for using Linux so exclusively, many more reasons than you can give for using a Mac or Window$, I choose to keep it short.

I don't use Amarok or Exaile, I don't know anyone who does, my Ubuntu 8.10 came with Rhythmbox installed.

"Amateur Windows-user trying to get by in a Linux world..." that's what most Linux related sites have for content, get over it.

And I mix KDE 3 and 4 with my GTK and QT all the time, no problems, another example of idiotic Window$ users thinking they know it about Linux, when you just rush through it and end up not doing it right.

Windows Vista is a piece of SHIT! It takes the highest-end machines just to run it at acceptable speed. Same goes for Macs.

Windows Movie Maker has always been crap, always will, it's something they designed to make it easier for dumb people to make "YouTube Poop" believe me I have dozens of machines laying around my house with Vista, XP, NT, 98, 95, even 3.1 and a few with the latest versions of DOS.

I have a machine for Ubuntu, Fedora 8 and 9, Debian, Gentoo, CentOS, Mint, RedHat, SUSE, SimplyMEPIS, etc., yet Ubuntu seems to be the easiest and most supported, but don't accuse me of being a "noob" Ubuntu user, okay, I've been using Linux since it came out.

Wrong! Not end of story, the story will be over when Microsoft and Apple go out of business and people start using Linux, which will be happening pretty soon with the econemy the way it is.

And I have done more productive work on Linux then I have ever been able it get done on Window$ or Mac, Window$ I can't go more than 5 hours without it crashing, Linux I can, because it's capable of being a web server, always on, serving you the Wikipedia, YouTube, Digg and pages to name a few. Don't talk like Linux is unstable because everyone know that Window$ is the number one most unstable piece of crap there is and Mac is the second.

And to the guy below, Linux has a VERY large game collection, one of the most impressive is Enemy Territoty Quake Wars, works perfectly, then there's Urban Terror, Combat Arms works in Wine so does Battlefield 1942/Vietnam, Tileracer, Nexuiz and so on. You just never bothered to look.

By: Rob Enderle

>I don't use Amarok or Exaile, I don't know anyone who does, my Ubuntu 8.10 came with >Rhythmbox installed.

 Hi. My name is Rob and I use Amarok.

I got a Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu and I thought I'd try it before I installed something else.

First impressions: wifi works like a charm, networking to a windows box, not so much. Rhythmbox and Totem are just inferior pieces of software and replaced them with Amarok and VLC.

Pidgin is two steps from useless so I installed Kopete which allows for webcam use as opposed to the other one.


Now stop behaving like a total douchebag. Youre THE guy people refer to when they talk about Buntu fanbois.


By: Anonymous

I used Ubuntu Studio instead of standard Ubuntu for a fair while. It just seemed better - and the default black theme was sexy with just a few little tweaks.

 And despite a few comments that have been left - I far prefer to use Linux on the desktop than crappy Windows or frustrating Mac.

By: ferensick

I can understand, 'crappy windows', but not 'frustrating mac'. MAC is partially based on BSD (Unix) and the file structure is very similar. On a mac installing apps is extremely simple... (no registry involved, don't have to worry about dependencies, etc). Uninstalling is even more simple. MAC OS X works well and is much more stable than Windows. Linux Ubuntu is great and I am eager to try the Studio version. Previous Linux OS' I've tried that are geared towards music production do not compare to a mac. I'm hoping Ubuntu Studio has bridged some of the gaps. =)

By: Italba

KDE breaks the ideals of Linux including proprietary software?

You're many years late, the QT library is GPL since 2.2 version in year 2000!

By: Anonymous

Okay, I know KDE is free in every way. You didn't read what I wrote well enough, I wrote "...proprietary software in the distro." not graphical user interface. "proprietary software" meaning video card drivers, and applications themselves, Ubuntu tells you that you're not following the idea of Linux and open-source when you install such things.

By: Boo Radley

So exactly how many different web browsers, email programs, torrent programs, and media players to you need on the same machine?

 For me, one of each does nicely... Firefox, Thunderbird (with calendar plugin if you must have it), Transmission and Banshee does nicely...

By: Anonymous

Umm, Ubuntu's Philosophy is " should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit. Ubuntu is entirely committed to the principles of open source software development; we encourage people to use open source software, improve it and pass it on." which the programs that come with Ubuntu are the kind they see as fitting in with their Philosophy, by installing other software you're breaking their Philosophy they work so hard on making work. I believe in freedom, Ubuntu comes with freedom software, use it.

Rhythmbox, Totem and Pidgin work for everything and are the TRUELY free software, you might as well use KDE because they don't care if they break the ideals of Linux, example: including proprietary software in the distro..

And YOU'RE the guy that's using Linux because you can't afford Window$ or a Mac, and I'M the one using it because I believe in it.

By: Mark

I'd like to agree with you but unfortunately USB hotplugging on 8.10 causes my system to totally freeze up. Use what ever works best for your HW config.;-)

By: Slew

I've been using Ubuntu Studio for a few months, mostly because I wanted to try out Ardour 2 with a working JACK system before moving back into Gentoo. Ubuntu Studio is like most other Ubuntu desktops, has the extra programs you want with little to no configuring. However, one thing that has always bugged me about this distro is that it rarely shuts down cleanly. Usually it gets stuck while unloading the ALSA driver and never fully shuts down. Since I installed this for use with Ardour 2, a sound/music creator/editor like ProTools, its always been an ingrown toenail for me. I'll soon be going back to Gentoo and maybe keep Ubuntu Studio in VMWare.

By: Bob Campbell

Well, I am not a geek.. I love linux, but NOT as a desktop.. NOPE!  sucks as a desktop but Linux simply ROCKS as a server.  I have been using it for 15 years.. Mandrake, Red Hat, now CentOS.. grab a Windows machine with XP or Vista.. put a PHP editor on it, get a good browser like Firefox or Opera, get IrfanView, Adobe Illustrator, Flash 9.0,  get a good video/movie editor, add some MySQL, a little Javascript,  a good FTP client and crap.. you are building beautiful webpages, YouTube videos, and databases running faster than lighting on any OS and Linux is the baby doing all the work under the hood.. bottom line so as not to kill the spirit of the original post.. Linux Desktops are for geeks that love to play.. Windows and Mac are for people that need productivity..  Cheers, Bob

By: mitchaki

"You know what else is stupid?-- who the hell installs Amarok on a gnome desktop? You use Exaile if you like the interface or Banshee or Rhythmbox if you just need the functionality."

  I use amarok on gnome, and so do quite a few other people I know who use gnome.  It's just a personal preference, and it works perfect on my computer and causes no performance issues that I can detect.  

 Freedom of choice.. it's nice isn't it?



By: John Bokma

"a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops."

Why is there such a desperate need among some Linux users to convert people? Why can't they see that there is not always an alternative for Windows software on the Linux desktop? Why to zealots prefer to close their eyes, and over-generalize?

And for the record, I use the Linux desktop, my mother-in-law has Ubuntu running on her computer. But I am very aware of the fact (!) that quite some "alternatives" lack features people want. There is a reason why people install Wine.

In my not so humble opinion, if you want to convert people, be honest. They trust you more if you tell them that you can have AV-chat with Pidgin compared to yelling on top of your lungs that Pidgin is an alternative for Windows Live Messenger (and that people should not want to use AV-chat).

"The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop" - Often the same people who could use IrfanView as a replacement...

Also, isn't it ironic that well over 50% of the software on your list runs on Windows. Sometimes even better (as in: less of a hassle to get installed).

There is still a lot of work to be done to make Linux "Ready for the Desktop" (as in: I feel not a single hesitation when I install it on the computer of my mother-in-law, or my own mother for that matter). Closing one's eyes to the obvious only makes it harder for people who care.


By: Jim Higgins

I have switched around in Linux for years. From RedHat, to Fedora, to Mepis, to LinuxMint, and PCLinux, and everything in between. This is part of the joy of running Linux....the choices. They all have advantages, and disadvantages according to your own personal tastes, and needs. I personally like to "tinker", and just like to test things out.. My last Linux version was LinuxMint which I have ran for the last 2 years, (I liked it that much)! I have now stumbled on Ubuntu Ultimate Edition 2.0, which has been fantastic!!. I have yet to have an issue running it on my 2 year old Dell laptop 1501 Inspiron. Hats off to both the Ubuntu Team, as well as the person who "fine tuned" it to what it is now. The only thing I would change is the standard installation of wicd for simple wireless connectivity issues with laptops.I can't persuade people to try it, they have to do their own homework, and see if it "fits" to their needs. I personally am hooked!

               Thank You


                                     Rochester NY

By: kb0hae

I aggree with the last commentor.  Linux is not for everyone.  Ubuntu is not the best Linux distribution either (in my opinion).  I use sidux, but its not for those who expect never to have to use the command line.  But then sidux IS a bleeding edge distro.  Linux Mint is a good distro for less computer literate folks, and I have heard that PCLinuxOS and Simply Mepis are pretty good too.   As for OpemOffice, I think that the cpmplaints are mostly from users of M$ office.  OpenOffice was originally meant to look and work a lot like M$ office, but it is NOT M$ office, and doesn not work quite the same.  It will however do all of the tasks that the average person, or office worker needs to do. 

 Linux is NOT Windows, and will never be just like Windows.  Nor should it.  I do believe that the average computer user could do everything in Linux that they do in Windows.  It just requires that they get used to things being a little different.  Some of the problems that people have with Linux have nothing to do with the developers of Linux.  They have to do with hardware manufacturers that do not (yet) support Linux, or do so poorly.  They have to do with companies that do not yet see a profit motive in writing software for Linux.  These things are changing, but doing so slowly. 

 As for converting people, I have converted a few friends from Windows to Linux.  Some are dual booting because although they see the advantages of using Linux, there are games or other programs that they want and/or need that only run in Windows.  I have a multiboot system myself.  I have sidux 2008-03 (fully updated) sidux 2008-02 (not updated)  Linux Mint 5 KDE Community Edition (fully updated), and Windows XP Pro (sp2).  On my system, I have blocked Windows from accessing the Internet in my router.  Windows is only used for some games that I like. 

 Linux is not for everyone, but if more people would give it an honest chance, and be willing to adapt to a few differences, they would not have any more problems using Linux than they do using Windpws.

Just my thoughts and opinions ;^))

By: I am an movie director, editor and a musician

First to say, you'll have to excause me for poor English. 

I'm using Ubuntu Studio 8.04. for quite a while and I must say I kinda liked it. It's free, easy to use/easy to learn, and from a simple user point of view - this free soft is unbeliveable. I watch movies, surf the internet and listen music with it. Most important - I comunicate using it. 

Looking trhu the eyes of a music producer, things also seem to be fine. You legaly get free multitrack editor with working post-processing effects, drum-macine, samplers and so on...I tried to do some stuff with "Ardour" and it can be solid alternative to "Cubase" for who knows how to do music from the ground up(who knows the basics of sound engineering)can do a lot of interesting stuff with "Ubuntu Studio" as with Cubase or Pro Tools.

The only thing that concerns me is video editing. Cinelerra simply doesn't work on "Ubuntu Studio", and it is the only editing tool for Linux that had some professional potential. I'm and director/editor so i know(who should tell you this, if not people like me?)

I'm not a computer geek so excuse me if I say something stupid now, but, isn't it funny that Linux, in general, has so many distros, and so little pro quality software? It seems like they are ununited or something like that? Why? Don't they all the have same goals? I think they should focus on creating some more powerfull applications,  instead of creating a bunch of slightly different distros.

And I didn't come here to tell Linux users/belivers/engineers that they are wrong, than to support them and to tell them that I greatly respect they're work.

P.S.This message is also written using the soft that came along with free "Ubuntu Studio" Linux distro, so doesn't that tell something to you all? (Something like, for example - Good life on Earth is posible ... even without Bill Gates ?)          

By: Anonymous

I spent two days trying to load 8.10 and it could not find a boot partition on a SATA drive. In contrast 8.04 loaded and ran in 1/2 hour. I guess we need to wait for SP4. 8.04 has it's own problems, OOo runs 2.4, 3.0 won't install without a BS in CS. In short it's an amusing toy, but not yet a real tool. Ubuntu needs to pay more attention to the software library, we use computers to run applications that complete required tasks. If we can't find an application to do the job or get the application to run we will take the path of least resistance, which at this point, like it or not, is Windoze. I think Linux has improved drastically in the last few years but until the average user can click on a setup file for an application and succeed, Linux won't compete with windoze for market share. We all know that the majority of Widows users are clueless how to do more then the most mundane tasks much less unpack and install a tar.giz file. I am not the least bit impressed by complexity. I buy tools that do the job better, easier and faster at a justifiable cost or not at all.